KRIS KRISTOFFERSON
Brings Saturday Night Magic

to Sunday Afternoon

October 19 Haugh Performing Arts Center, Glendora

By Terry Roland

kriskristofferson.jpg

"Sometimes heroes happen when you need ‘em." Kris Kristofferson

Sometimes, it seems, heroes and legends just kind of roll through town, quietly, under publicized and unassuming. This happened Sunday afternoon October 19 as the Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora hosted a concert by Kris Kristofferson with next to no promotion. Even so, the concert was filled to near capacity. Now in his early 70's, the singer-songwriter kept joking about trying to imagine it was Saturday night rather than Sunday afternoon. However, by the end of the earthy, magical show, he announced to the enthusiastic audience, they had made him feel like it was a Saturday night. This is high praise from the poet laureate of the counter-culture dusty honky tonks of the 1970s.

Kristofferson, who has traveled with various back up musicians over the years, has decided to appear alone in the same way he did when he first appeared in Nashville and later on his first trek as a songwriter to LA's Troubadour in 1970. It was a risky but a wise move for this artist who has always performed best in the most intimate settings. It was as honest and real a performance as he has ever given in his long career. There were no fancy guitar parts, no soaring harmony vocals to cover up any limitations. There was barely even any talk between the songs. It was just Kris, the guitar, the songs and a privileged audience.

Kristofferson's body of work, especially his classic songs like Me & Bobby McGee, Help Me Make It Through The Night and For The Good Times, create a set list that would allow him to coast through the familiar crowd pleasers. Instead, he mixed the two hour show with unfamiliar old and new songs, all of which were reflective of his personal journey and his moral and political convictions. The opening song, Shipwrecked, was dedicated to the veterans of the Iraq war. It takes an insider's look at the alienation a soldier feels serving in an unjust and unnecessary war. He originally wrote it for the Vietnam vets. The tragedy is the fact that he was able to link the song perfectly to the current war. The best anti-war songs are truly universal and relevant to any time in history. This is such a song.

A song he described as one of Johnny Cash's favorite, Here Comes That Rainbow Again, tells a story of two children, a waitress and two truckers from Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. It's a haiku of a hillbilly, dust bowl story of compassion, humanity and generosity.

But, the strongest moments came as he pulled out songs from his new CD, This Old Road. The title song is about aging during a time of conflict and confusion. The song, In The News, hits the listener between the eyes with the events of the last few years and cleverly ties the murder of a woman and her unborn child to the atrocities of the Iraq war. Pilgrims Progress is a meditation on staying vital and young even as time passes. Am I young enough to believe in revolution/am I strong enough to get down on my knees and pray? He asks. The Final Attraction, inspired by Willie Nelson, pays tribute to the durability of the poets and troubadours of our times, including himself. He admonishes on the last line....Go break a heart

The performance was ragged, intimate and subtly passionate. It was a living room performance. He simply invited us in to his own private space inside the dreams of one of the great songwriters of the last 50 years. He's never had a great technical voice, sometimes hitting a flat note or two and unable to reach the higher ranges of his songs. But what he lacked in technical ability, he made up for in heart and passion. He sings from a place true to his soul and his integrity, whether the song is about love, family, war, aging, redemption or freedom.

After he realized the audience was with him, his own enthusiasm for the songs lifted him from that Sunday afternoon mellowness to a transformed Saturday night of joy and a subtle, but goodtime country gentleman's madness. In some strange sense, it was even more, like any great concert, as his song says, A Moment of Forever. It was, for this writer, a rare moment of concert magic with this legendary singer's rare appearance in the southland.

 


Terry Roland is an English teacher, freelance writer, occasional poet, songwriter and folk and country enthusiast. The music has been in his blood since being raised in Texas. He came to California where he was taught to say 'dude' at an early age.

 

Kris will be performing in Southern California the next few days at:

 

October 24 8:00pm

Cerritos Performing Arts Center

12700 Center Court Dr., Cerritos

562 916-8501 or 800-300-4345

www.cerritoscenter.com

 

October 25 8:00pm

La Cereza Winery

34567 Rancho California Road, Temecula, CA 92591

 

October 26 7:00pm

Lancaster Performing Arts Center

750 W. Lancaster Blvd., Lancaster

661-723-5950 www.lpac.org